THE BOOKMAN’S TALE. By Charlie Lovett. Viking. 347 pages. $27.95.

“The Bookman’s Tale” is three stories in one: a tragic romance, a deadly mystery and the history of a book that might prove that the works of William Shakespeare actually were done by William Shakespeare.

Each of these stories is fabulous, and Charlie Lovett moves deftly among the three, each of which has bearing on the others, to create a wonderful “Bookman’s Tale.”

While working in the Ridgefield University library, Peter Byerly falls in love with books and Amanda Ridgefield. A decade later, after her death, a deeply distraught Byerly moves to the home the couple bought in England and soon becomes caught up in a complex investigation that could prove or disprove Shakespeare’s legitimacy. It’s an outcome someone is willing to kill over.

The historical part starts in 1592. As time goes forward, the reader gets to witness Shakespeare writing the words that will prove his identity once and for all. Given that the mystery part of the book is about whether those words are real or forged, this seems like cheating, but it’s not.

“The Bookman’s Tale” is just one of those books that you can’t stop reading until you find out what happens, but you’re a bit sad when you get to the end because you want more.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.